A SOLDIER ranked among Britain’s bravest is set for a lasting salute to the life he lost in battle nearly 100 years ago.
Lance Corporal Allan Leonard Lewis was the only county winner of the Victoria Cross during the First World War.
By this time next year he may have a commemorative stone to mark his home and courage.
Allan Lewis and his fellow VC winners from the First World War are at the heart of national plans to mark the centenary of the 1914-18 conflict.
Three other winners with strong county connections will also be honoured by commemorative stones laid in their home towns.
In the case of L/Cpl Lewis, a claim on the stone could be made by both Brilley and Whitney-on-Wye.
It was within the boundaries of both that he was born and grew up – only to die aged 23 during the last major actions of the war, a mere two months from its end.
The final resting place of Allan Lewis has never been found.
Identified by a paybook found on his body, presumably then buried nearby, his name made memorials at Whitney and Brilley and is one of the hundreds listed at the vast First World War cemetery at Vis-en- Artois, France.
What is known is that L/Cpl Lewis spent his last moments ensuring the men under his command made cover under intense machine gun fire having led them at a charge through a withering barrage during a brutal battle at Ronssoy, northern France, on September 21, 1918.
Three days before, he crawled alone into intense fire towards two machine gun posts, and with his rifle and grenades, forced the machine gunners to surrender, allowing a vital advance.
The parents of L/Cpl Lewis – jobbing carpenter George and his wife Annie, a lady’s maid – received their son’s VC personally from King George V at Buckingham Palace in April 1919.
A contemporary account in the Hereford Times described L/Cpl Lewis as: “A shining example for future generations of Herefordshire boys to emulate.”
To read more about the early life of L/Cpl Lewis, click here.
Other First World War VC winners with Herefordshire connections:
Lieut Norman Holbrook RN - Decorated for one the most daring Naval actions for the war. Lieut Holbrook, whose family lived for a time in Hafod Road, Hereford, commanded an ageing and obsolete mini-submarine that dived beneath five rows of mines to torpedo and sink a Turkish battleship in the Dardanelles.
Lance-Sergeant Edward Smith, Lancashire Fusiliers - The son of Edward Smith, formerly of Tupsley and grandson of Mrs E Grubb of Stanhope Street, Whitecross, Hereford. He received his VC for singlehandly charging and taking a machine gun post during a battle near Serre, France, in 1918, having earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal days earlier.
Lieut Basil Jones, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment - Grandson of county magistrate Richard Jones, of Kings Caple. He kept his men together to fight an overwhelming attack on the crater they defended during the battle of Vimy, France, in 1916.